Armed men have abducted at least 16 people from La Leche, an upmarket restaurant in a popular Mexican tourist destination. Suspected members of organised crime were said to have been taken hostage, officials said, according to El Tiempo.
"They were not tourists or residents who work in legal activities," Eduardo Almaguer, the state prosecutor said in an AP report. "They were people tied to a criminal group we can very clearly presume." He added that the authorities knew which groups were involved but refused to name them.
Witnesses reported that four women in the targeted group were not taken by the gunmen, and that authorities were searching for those women. All of those kidnapped were from the western states of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco.
"Obviously, those who acted (the kidnappers) — we presume with the information we have — also belonged to a criminal group that acted against members of another criminal group they located here in Puerto Vallarta," Almaguer said.
He later posted an official release that stated "according to the testimony of eyewitnesses, a number of men arrived in a white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and a Chevrolet Suburban, and they proceeded to kidnap a group of people in a restaurant."
Initial reports, which have not been officially confirmed, stated that a group of armed men targeted around 20 people in La Leche restaurant and took some of them away in several vehicles.
Mexico's Excelsior newspaper said that people at the restaurant described the gunmen as having large weapons and wore hoods to disguise their faces. Five vehicles were abandoned at La Leche and it is not yet known if they belonged to the victims or their abductors, according to an AP report.
Mexico's popularity as a tourist destination is growing despite rising crime rates. A State Department advisory updated in April warned about travel to certain parts of Mexico, saying US citizens have been the victims of violent crimes including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery by organised criminal groups. According to a citizens' watchdog group that monitors the number of crime investigations by Mexican authorities nationally, crime in Mexico continues to grow.
Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, a citizens' watchdog group reported in February that preliminary investigations for kidnappings was up by 14% violent robbery by 12% and car theft by 10%. Puerto Vallarta, had the fifth highest first-degree homicide investigation rate in Mexico as of February.